- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2016

A British court that deals with employment issues ruled against Uber in a lawsuit brought by two drivers connected with an influential labor union, the London Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

In the ruling, a London employment tribunal found Uber drivers should be categorized as employees of the tech company, not independent contractors, and hence eligible for minimum wage and mandatory holiday pay.

“It is, in our opinion, unreal to deny that Uber is in business as a supplier of transportation services,” the court said, reported the Telegraph.

The suit was brought by the GMB trade union after claims that the company wasn’t adhering to the drivers’ employment rights, the Telegraph reported.

GMB historically has strong ties with the center-left Labour Party, whose shadow secretary for business seized on the ruling to criticize Uber. “Uber are going to have to fundamentally rethink how they operate in this country,” Jack Dromey told the BBC.

An expert in British employment law told Bloomberg the ruling could have a ripple effect throughout the so-called gig economy, which relies on independent contractors operating on smartphone platforms.

“This decision will potentially open the floodgates for further claims, not just from Uber drivers but from thousands of others who work in the gig economy,” said Lee Rogers. “This is unlikely to be the end of the story — given what is at stake not just for Uber but for the industry as a whole.”

The BBC found Uber drivers generally who were generally positive about the ruling.

Khaled Mohamed-Hadg, who drives for Uber in London, said he will be following Mr Farrar’s suit and taking up his case with the GMB as well.

“I am very happy with this decision,” he said. “It is very important, because we are happy to play our part in helping the economy, but we want to be treated fairly and paid fairly.

“If you drive so much because you earn so little, if its bad for your health,” Mr. Mohamed-Hadg said. “I know people who drive 12 or 15 hours a day to make the money and don’t even make minimum wage, so this could make all the difference to them.”

But fellow Uber driver Steven Rowe disagreed.

“I don’t see myself as being employed. I don’t see myself as a worker for Uber,” he said. “I see myself as being my own boss, making my own decisions … It might be a success for two Uber drivers, but I think the vast majority of us will be really, really worried about whether Uber can run the really successful way they’ve operated in this country.”

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